Regional leaders in education, workforce development, government, business and industry met to hear strategies for issues of common concern in developing and supporting talent for our region. Topics at this year’s Education to Employment Summit ranged from attracting and retaining top talent, partnerships in training, needs in mental health and childcare.
Regional stakeholder’s discussed ongoing initiatives to retain or attract top talent to the region including examples from Nuclear Fuel Services in addition to the growing work of The Alliance, a regional diversity and inclusion non-profit. Attendees also heard the results of the recently completed Regional Wage & Benefit Survey of manufacturers as well as data on a recent survey of professionals who graduated from area high schools but left the region.
A panel of four college students who moved to the region and plan to stay discussed what has kept them here. Their views are important to understand why people leave and why people stay as we address a declining and aging population and global competition.
Attendees learned how school systems, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Northeast State Community College and businesses are partnering to allow students to start their college experience while in high school with innovations such as the middle college experience. Eastman shared their work in creating internships for high school students which will grow to include multiple high schools and the framework for other sectors of the economy to create similar programs.
Two key discussions centered on prioritizing mental health including the work of our educators and mental health professionals in the school system as well as how employers can help employees with support for their own needs or those of their children. The other discussion is the critical need in our region for greater access to affordable, quality childcare. Representatives from Tennesseans for Quality Early and Education and Brightstart Northeast Tennessee shared their work which is underway to begin addressing these issues.
The 4th annual E2E Summit was sponsored by area chambers, economic development organizations and the Northeast Tennessee Local Workforce Development Board. The First Tennessee Development District oversees this event which is designed to be a true regional conversation to develop strategies to Northeast Tennessee’s economy.